Bay Area Council Blog: Uncategorized Archive


Leon Panetta, Gov. Brown & Execs Wow Outlook Audience

Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta seemed to confirm during discussion yesterday at the 2013 Outlook Conference that mysterious Area 51 in the Nevada desert does not house research or artifacts related to alien or extra-terrestrial life. The tongue-in-cheek response came during a wide-ranging conversation led by Dignity Health President and CEO Lloyd Dean in front of hundreds of executives and public policy leaders at the San Francisco Jazz Center.

During the discussion and in remarks beforehand, Panetta shared colorful insights on the dramatic events that brought Osama bin Laden to justice. He talked about the differences in style between Presidents Clinton and Obama, bemoaned the “mindless” sequestration and the destructive partisanship gripping DC, and related the lessons he learned from his immigrant father in expressing his optimism for the transcendent spirit of Americans to overcome challenges. Panetta was the closing keynote of an afternoon of substantive, entertaining and informative discussions on social media, health care, energy and Bay Area professional sports.

Governor Jerry Brown was another highlight of the afternoon, engaging with Bay Area Council Chair and Bank of America California State President Janet Lamkin in a lively conversation that delved into education, trade with China and the recent trip he made there with a delegation organized by the Bay Area Council, climate change and the state’s fiscal health.

Sports fans were enthralled to hear from SF Giants President and CEO Larry Baer and SF 49ers President and CEO Jed York, who likened the region’s booming sports industry to the “Renaissance of Venice.” There were rousing cheers at the mention of the Bay Area being named this week to host Super Bowl L in 2016 at the 49ers’ new Levi’s Stadium. And Daniel Lurie, Co-chair of the Super Bowl Bid Committee on which Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman served, made a surprise visit on stage to hail the victory.

Sen. Alex Padilla, Chair of the Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee, moderated a conversation with PG&E executive Geisha Williams, Echelon CEO Ron Sege and Enphase Energy CEO Paul Nahi about the challenges confronting California’s energy future. And Blue Shield of California CEO Paul Markovich led off a fascinating discussion with Dignity Health executive Michael Blaszyk, Safeway Chief Medical Officer Kent Bradley and Wells Fargo Bank healthcare finances executive Keith Grundy.

The Bay Area Council extends its thanks to the many sponsors and supporters of the conference, with special thanks to Dignity Health and Lloyd Dean for serving as the Presenting Visionary Sponsor. Thanks also to Wells Fargo Bank for its major support and hosting the two networking breaks. For a complete list of supporters, please visit 2013 Outlook Conference presented by Dignity Health.

And stay tuned for links to videos of the discussions, including a penetrating conversation with SV Angel Senior Advisor Ron Conway, MC Hammer, tech blogger Michael Arrington and former Google executive Hunter Walk on the role of social media in driving political change. You’re sure to enjoy Arrington pressing Hammer and Conway on their political aspirations.


Promising News on Immigration Reform

Immigration reform that the Bay Area Council has been pressing for several years took a promising step forward this week when a bipartisan bill cleared a key Senate committee. With the approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the so-called “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill now moves to the full Senate for deliberation. The action comes after timely meetings the Bay Area Council held last week with legislators during our annual D.C. advocacy trip. We are particularly focused on reforms related to increasing visas for high-skilled workers to help tech and other employers in the Bay Area that rely on such talent to fuel their growth. The Bay Area Council has also been partnering with some of the country’s top tech industry associations to pressure Congress to approve long-awaited and necessary reforms this year. To engage in our immigration reform work, contact Policy Vice President Michael Cunningham.


Big Legislative Wins on Healthcare

California this week took a big leap forward in advancing healthcare reform and creating a high-value health system, among the Bay Area Council’s lead priorities. Covered California announced the health care plans that will be participating in the state’s new insurance exchange. Bay Area Council Senior Policy Advisor Micah Weinberg was busy throughout the day, testifying before various committees and meeting with individual lawmakers. The news was generally very good, with premium rates for Californians across the state coming in lower than predicted. Weinberg noted in a Wall Street Journal article that a very small number of consumers will see substantial increases.

Three bills the Bay Area Council supports that will allow healthcare professionals such as optometrists and pharmacists to provide some primary care services for patients were advanced unanimously to the Senate Floor. A coalition led by the Bay Area Council and member company Safeway also garnered a big win for the business community as we successfully defeated a bill that would have banned the use by employers of wellness incentive programs. Though we are headed in a positive direction, there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done. To engage in our healthcare policy work or to attend an upcoming information session on post-ACA insurance options for employers, contact Senior Policy Advisor Micah Weinberg


Supporting Governor’s School Funding Plan

The Bay Area Council on May 22 announced that it is supporting the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) proposed by Governor Jerry Brown in his May budget revise. The proposed new formula, directing supplemental funds to programming for disadvantaged students and to closing the achievement gap, infuses fairness and equity into the funding system.  It also provides for community involvement in local strategic and accountability planning.

“California’s economy cannot afford to leave some children behind,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Under the Governor’s leadership, the devastating education budget cuts have stopped. Looking forward, Governor Brown has a vision for school funding that corrects inequities, reduces complex regulations, and engages local communities. We applaud the Governor’s vision and commitment to providing all children a good education.”

As the Governor has proposed it, the Local Control Funding Formula sets a per pupil funding “base” target that begins to restore the cuts made in recent years. Supplemental funding is added for students who are English learners, low income or in foster care. An additional grant is provided to districts with 50 percent or more students in these categories.

The proposal provides for a gradual transition over seven years to the new formula as funding grows. All districts will gain spending flexibility and must engage the community in developing an accountability plan.


Progress on Bills Related to CEQA, Taxes and Healthcare

The Bay Area Council scored several legislative victories this week related to our focus policy work. We gave lead testimony before the Committee on Governance and Finance on SB 209, a bill by Sen. Ted Lieu that would block the collection of retroactive taxes from entrepreneurs and small business investors and reinstate the Qualified Small Business tax credit going forward. The bill cleared the committee on a 6-1 vote. The Bay Area Council has been at the front of this issue since it surfaced last year following unfortunate rulings by a state appeals court and the Franchise Tax Board. To join us in advocating for this bill and engaging in our other tax policy work, contact Policy Manager Emily Finkel.

Our work as part of a statewide coalition to reform CEQA gained traction this week when a bill authored by Sen. Steinberg passed out of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. Thank you to Sen. Steinberg for his leadership on this issue. The Bay Area Council was among the groups testifying in favor of SB 731, and we will remain closely engaged in the coming debate over its final language. To engage in our CEQA reform work, contact Government Relations Vice President Matt Regan.

On the healthcare front, the Bay Area Council joined with a broad coalition of providers and health plans to testify in support of three bills authored by Sen. Ed Hernandez – SB 491, 492 and 493 – that seek to expand the scope of practice for non-physician medical providers, such as pharmacists, optometrists and nurse practitioners. All three bills made it out of the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development in spite of stiff resistance from opponents.

On Wednesday, we joined members Safeway and SeeChange Health to provide lead testimony in opposition to SB 189, a proposal to limit the use of employer wellness incentive programs. While the bill made it out of committee, the author has taken significant amendments due to the pressure we have applied, and we are confident that we will either stop the bill or transform it into a reasonable measure we can support.  We also testified, alongside Small Business Majority and Bay Area Council members Kaiser Permanente and Blue Shield, in favor of SB 161, which would limit the use of self-insurance by very small businesses.  The trend toward purchasing stop-loss coverage is causing an exodus of employers with younger and healthier employees from traditional coverage, disrupting the market on which all small businesses rely. To engage in our healthcare policy work, contact Senior Policy Advisor Micah Weinberg.


Member Spotlight: The Clorox Company Celebrates 100th

Today (May 3) The Clorox Company – a founding member of the Bay Area Council – celebrates its 100th anniversary. It all began on May 3, 1913, when five entrepreneurs invested $100 each to start a business and fulfill their American dream in a bottle of bleach. A century later, the company is a thriving, multinational business with 8,400 talented employees; $5.5 billion in sales; tens of millions of dollars in grants, product donations and support to nonprofit organizations; and hundreds of products that are household staples throughout the world. While many things have changed over the years, some remain the same: Clorox’s commitment to the Bay Area, a dedication to delivering enduring value, and a mission to make everyday life better, every day. Visit to learn more.


Members Engage with Governor, Legislative Leaders at Sacramento Day

The Bay Area Council’s Sacramento office wrapped up a very busy week today (May 3), coming off Monday’s annual Sacramento Day and a host of key legislative hearings. Over 40 Bay Area Council members turned out for an informative and productive series of meetings in the capitol that delved into many of our focus policy priorities. Member delegates enjoyed a candid and wide-ranging discussion with Governor Jerry Brown. We also met with Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, state Controller John Chiang, California High Speed Rail Authority CEO Jeff Morales and a number of top legislative leaders. We capped off the day with a reception and dinner with 13 of the Bay Area Caucus legislators, where we honored Senator Mark DeSaulnier with the Bay Area Council’s first Regionalist of the Year award. Thank you to the Bay Area Council members, speakers and guests who participated and to our generous sponsors, T.Y. Lin and Visa, for making it our most successful Sacramento Day yet!

See photos from the day’s events.

Read the Sacramento Day policy briefing book.